Mother's Day Restaurant Ideas: 16 Creative Promotions

By: Allie Tetreault and AJ Beltis

10 Minute Read

May 11, 2018

restaurant mother's day

Forget about jewelry, flowers, and household decór – this year, moms mostly want a meal with their families for Mother's Day.

Mother’s Day, the #1 most popular holiday for dining out, is right around the corner.

With just a few weeks until this holiday, here are a few ideas to get more mothers and their families into your restaurant this Mother's Day.

Download the Toast Holiday Handbook for Mother's Day Promotion Ideas

Mother's Day Dining Statistics

According to the National Restaurant Association, 32% of moms name having a meal with their families as the gift they most want for Mother's Day. An additional 9% want a restaurant gift card. This means two out of five moms say their top gift request involves a restaurant, and it's a huge opportunity for your business to capture new guests, reengage existing customers, and establish your reputation.

mothers day restaurant ideas

Looking at the population as a whole, the numbers are even more promising for your business. Last year, an estimated 113 million American adults (45% of the adult population) ordered at a restaurant in 2017. 92 million dined in a restaurant itself, while 21 million ordered takeout or delivery.

While Mother's Day Brunch is commonly seen as the most popular dining option, that's actually not the case. For all the diners who plan on ordering at a restaurant during Mother's Day, only 25% order brunch, while 47% order dinner, and 45% order lunch. Just 10% of diners go to breakfast on Mother's Day.

16 Mother's Day Dining Promotion and Menu Ideas

To capture the Mother's Day dining traffic, you'll have to do something unique (no – a "Mom Eats Free" special is not unique).

From gifts, to drinks, to weekend-long events, read below for 16 Mother's Day promotion and menu ideas from restaurants across the U.S.

Reminder to patrons: Always double-check with a restaurant if they're running a Mother's Day special when calling to reserve. The restaurant may have run a promotion last year, but have since changed their marketing strategy!

1. Give Gifts to Mom

They may not all want the same gift, but most moms would appreciate a gift on Mother's Day.

The Melting Pot gives special gifts to moms who showed up for Mother's Day in 2018, while IndeBlue gave a complimentary rose to their dining mothers.

restaurants mothers day

The gifts these restaurants give to mothers are not lavish or extravagant – they're affordable, genuine, and able to make a good impression. Mothers who show up not knowing about the gift will be surprised and delighted that your restaurant took the extra step to honor them.

2. Break the Boundaries

Who says Mother's Day can't be Mother's Weekend? The Melting Pot turns the holiday into a four-day extravaganza.

  • Friday kicks it all off with dinner, where moms get a free gift.
  • Saturday is for moms and the kids.
  • Sunday is for a classier brunch.
  • Monday is Ladies Night.

This combination of dining events hits Mother's Day on every level and appeals to young families, mothers with grown children, and moms who need a night on the town.

3. Sell Them on a Second Visit

Why should the Mother's Day love last one day only? Given the high volume of traffic your restaurant may see, use the opportunity to wrangle guests in for their next visit.

mothers day promotion ideas

From the Fogo de Chão website for Mother's Day 2018

Fogo de Chão gives a complimentary dining card to moms who eat there on Mother's Day. The card is only good for a few weeks, so it drives immediate demand for guests to return and enjoy their bottomless steak dinner. Your restaurant could offer a similar deal – a limited-time coupon or discount to create repeat business.

4. Free Dessert

OK – we did mention that offering free food is a cop out for Mother's Day. However, offering a free dessert is a smart way to get everyone in to pay for the entrée.

Shoney's gave moms a free slice of strawberry pie with a meal at participating restaurants last year. Shoney's also wisely promoted this special on their Instagram page a week before the holiday so families could consider the restaurant in any last-minute Mother's Day plans.

5. Kick Things off with Mama's Eve

Who says Mother's Day has to be about the kids? After all, it's Mother's Day.

mothers day ideas restaurant

Not all moms are the living embodiments of June Cleaver, so don't forget about the moms who are always down for a night out. STK LA had a party celebrating Mama's Eve the night before Mother's Day with a welcome shot, cocktails, and a special menu. This is the perfect way for bars and nightclubs to capture business on this traditionally family-friendly holiday.

6. Embarrass the Kids

What mom doesn't love causing their child some good-hearted embarrassment? Wienerschnitzel gives mom a free meal if they prove their "Mom-bership" with a family photo or an embarrassing story of their kids.

Which ways will your restaurant allow mom to have the last laugh this Mother's Day?

7. Keep it Casual

No need to put on a classy facade to bring moms in this year – 62% of diners want to grab a bite at a relaxed casual dining restaurant on Mother's Day. Keep it fun, affordable, and casual if you want to give moms what they want this Mother's Day.

8. Stock up on Surf & Turf

Think Mom wants a salad or a brunch buffet for her day? Think again.

Surveys say mothers want to (rightfully) splurge on their day, with only 1% planning on ordering a salad on Mother's Day and only 2% intending to order a sandwich. Instead, moms want steak, seafood, and international cuisine, according to the NRA.

mothers day in restaurants

If you already offer these menu items - great! Promote them with your special Mother's Day menu on social media and your website to draw in visitors, and make sure you order enough for your inventory on this busy day.

If you don't offer these items, talk to your chefs and food distributors to see if cooking up a Mother's Day special is in the realm of possibility.

9. Discounted or Bottomless Alcohol

Some moms just need a drink.

Last year, The Greene Turtle offered half-off wine bottles to get moms in the door. Larger discounts tend to attract larger-sized parties, so a discount like this may bring in a group of families or even a multi-generational visit with mothers, children, and grandmothers.

Does your state not allow discounts on alcohol? You can still be plenty creative. Capital Grille has free bottomless mimosas for their Mother's Day patrons.

10. Partner with a Charity or Non-Profit

No one gives more than mom. In the spirit of Mother's Day, partnering with a charity is a fitting way to both bring in business and help out a great cause.

For example, Sbarro Pizza partnered with St. Jude's to give 50 cents of every slice to the charity in the past, and this year, the pizza chain will be donating 20% of every slice sold plus an additional coupon for those who donate a dollar at the register.

Whether it's an international advocacy program or a local food shelter, partnering with a charity or non-profit will be a welcomed part of your restaurant's Mother's Day agenda.

11. Host a Cooking Class or Special Event

Boston's Mei Mei Street Kitchen served no food from 2 to 5 p.m. on Mother's Day. Instead, guests got to come in and make it themselves! They hosted a dumpling making class in the afternoon and even partnered up with a charity for the event.

If you want to make Mother's Day extra special in your restaurant, take things a step further and create an activity on top of the meal. Your guests will create memories in addition to a great holiday meal.

12. Make a Game out of it!

Remember – moms want to keep it casual on Mother's Day, so have a little fun!

Bareburger gave a free dessert to every mom who gave their server the "secret password" (it was sweet mama bear, for the record). This was a fun and simple social media post that encouraged more visitors for Bareburger (that was shared and liked several times).

13. Enhance the Mood with Live Music

This is an especially good Mother's Day dining promotion idea for bars, who may find it difficult to attract guests on this holiday. Don't market to families with small children, as they won't feel a bar is appropriate. Instead, invite musicians to perform and market your establishment as a "classy" choice for Mother's Day brunch or drinks.

mothers day promotion ideas

This Mother's Day, The Beehive in Boston's South End scheduled live music for their guests – on top of observing other Mother's Day best practices like a prix fixe menu and brunch.

Speaking of which...

14. Get Creative with Prix Fixe Menus

As always, the right prix fixe menu can have a big impact on your bottom line. By using menu costing techniques, you can price your prix fixe menu with historical data in mind, and set a goal for your amount of prix fixe orders and prix fixe sales on Mother's Day.

For example, Harvest, a fine dining restaurant in Cambridge, MA, offered a three-course prix-fixe Mother's Day brunch menu highlighting their commitment to fresh New England cuisine. With an adequate amount of choices for each course, as well as an option to include wine pairings with each dish for $25 extra, Harvest likely garnered many restaurant reservations for Mother's Day.

mother's day restaurant menu

15. Raffle off Some Mother's Day Prizes

Mattenga's Pizzeria, a pizza shop in Schertz, Texas, raffled off a few prizes to lucky mothers on Mother's Day in 2016.

Ten winners won a "Family Size 2 Topping Pizza," two mothers won a May Kay gift basket, and one received a four-hour cleaning coupon.

This promotion engages guests at the restaurant, keeps them engaged on social media, and also brings them back to the restaurant when it's not a holiday, creating loyal customers.

Other examples of great restaurant Mother's Day contests include Shoney's, where guests were encouraged to enter their mothers into a raffle for a $100 restaurant gift card, and Papa Murphy's, who last year ran a three-day, two-night getaway to Vegas for one lucky mom.

16. Regardless, share the love on social media!

Even if you're not running a special on Mothers' Day, remember to share the love on social media! Here's Papa Gino's wishing the best to all of the Facebook moms out there.

Keeping up with the Mother's Day Rush

Do you have the right technology to handle the busiest day of the restaurant year?

restaurant mothers day ideas

Restaurant handhelds – portable tablets for your servers – can increase revenue and table turn by 20% at peak times. Click here to learn more about restaurant handhelds and how you can equip your staff with them this Mother's Day.

Get Ready for Mother's Day in Your Restaurant!

Make sure your team is prepped and your restaurant is booked this Mother's Day with Toast's Restaurant Holiday Handbook.

This post was initially published in April 2016 and has been updated with new information.

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